Conventional wisdom has it that English has won the race to be the new “lingua-franca” for international business and communication.

To some extent that’s right. English is by far the most widely spoken language in the world with over 400 million native speakers and an estimated 1.1 billion second language speakers spread over every continent, with 60 states having English as an official language.

Of course Spanish and Mandarin have more native speakers, but if you want to do business around the world, the consensus is that English is the language of choice.

Where that’s not true though is in consumer spending. Especially in industries such as retail, where increased globalisation means companies are selling their products across the world.

And while English might be the choice in the board room negotiation, it certainly isn’t when doing an online shop. In their own consumer experiences, shoppers expect to be able to browse websites in their own language.

To achieve the best result on investment companies, especially those growing in an English-speaking market, must take this into account. Research by the Common Sense Advisory shows that as the customer experience becomes ever more online-focused, brands must deliver content in dozens of languages to maximise their audience reach.

Websites available in 4 languages for example, will reach an estimated 50% of the global consumer market. It takes 14 languages to reach 80% of that same audience.

Reaching these potential customers can have a huge impact on sales and 75% of people said they’d be more willing to make a purchase on a product if the website they are browsing is in their own language.

So as trade becomes less tied to geography, companies need to catch up and think seriously about localisation and how their online presence can appeal across the world. How do they make language “localisation” an embedded part of their business to break down those barriers to trade and increased growth while protecting their brand identity?

At thebigword we offer a service that allows companies to answer these questions. Our language support systems are designed to remember branding preferences and industry-specific terminology that saves time and money during the translation process.

And we understand how to localise content while maintaining constituent messages each and every time.

Many businesses have already woken up to the importance of localisation and the massive opportunities it provides in a digital marketplace made up of billions of consumers.

For those businesses that haven’t the message is clear – take the opportunity now and break down those barriers to trade.